Bob and I have a few road trips this summer. Most recently, we drove up to the Apple Farm in San Louis Obispo for a little weekend away. Our poolside room gave private access to the hot tub after 9:30. We found out about a sale on TravelZoo and only paid $109 for the room! Every couple needs to make time for R&R, and inexpensive getaways are always best. But these days, one of the things you have to take in account for any road trip is gas. Do you remember the days when gas was under a dollar a gallon? Not anymore! Especailly here in SoCal, where gas is easily over $4 on a good day. But there are ways to save at the pump, if you are strategic. Here are my tips:
• Plan – AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator helps you plot out the most efficient route. You can also put in the year, make and model of your car and it will compute what you’ll spend on gas.
• Prices – Get the app or go to sites such as www.gaspricewatch.com, www.fuelmeup.com, or www.gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest price for gas both at home and enroute. Find the app called Gas Buddy or AAA’s Trip’Tik Mobile iPhone.
• Pace Your Driving – Jackrabbit starts and constant speeding up and slowing down cost precious gas mileage miles. Instead, pace yourself. Jackrabbit stops are as bad as the starts (or so I constantly tell my husband).
• Pushing It Up! – Believe it or not, speeding will only speed up your fuel consumption. According to the Department of Energy (DOA) it takes a lot of energy for your vehicle to push the air out of the way as you speed down the road. Driving the speed limit of 65 versus 75 can save as much as 15% on fuel consumption because of the energy needed for higher speeds.
• Puhleeze Give Me Some Air – At speeds of 40 mph or greater, it costs more to leave the windows open (due to drag) than it does to run the air. In a place like Palmdale, CA where the summer temps reach 110 degrees, that’s good news!
• Pitch the Junk! – Take your golf clubs, soccer chairs, Salvation Army book donations and all the other JUNK out of your TRUNK. Otherwise, you’re paying more to haul it.
• Pressure and Maintain – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-in-four cars have under inflated tires by 8 pounds per square inch. By getting the right amount of air in your tires and taking a few minutes to change the air filter, you can increase your gas mileage by 3.3%! A tuned engine can save an average of 4% more and detected problems, like a bad oxygen sensor can help your mileage by 40%!
• Pool it – Carpool whenever possible, and let everyone pitch in with their dough!
• Premium, Schmium – According to AAA, only 5% of vehicles in the US require the premium gas – it does not help your vehicle for you to pay more for it. Buy the regular stuff and have no worries.
• Peak no More! – Plan trips, if possible, during off peak times to avoid traffic jams.
• Pay up! – Make teens pay for gas when they aren’t driving for sanctioned raod time (such as school, work, running your errands, etc). It’s amazing how much less miles they will put on the car!
Happy Road Tripping
aka America’s Family Financial Expert (R)